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C.D.C. Director Says Latest COVID Surge could be over in Weeks or could be Similar to our Surge in Early January; Interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); MyPillow CEO Keeps Pushing False Claims About 2020 Election. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 5, 2021 - 20:00   ET



MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Had it been a case of Diet Coke? I would have been all over it. I had -- I had no idea that they were -- that this was missing. Sadly, I wouldn't know the difference between the $58.00 bottle and the $5,800.00 bottle.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OK, I'm totally with him on that. But who the heck took that thing? At one point knowing what it's valued and drank it. Wow. We're assuming, of course, it's long gone. Thanks so much for watching. It's time now for AC 360.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Tonight, one of the nation's top health officials said it bluntly, our latest COVID surge could be over within a matter of weeks, or we could soon be right back to the very worst days of the entire pandemic.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: If we work together unify as a country, vaccinate everyone who is interested in the unvaccinated, and put our masks on to prevent disease. We could really control this in a matter of weeks.

However, our models show that if we don't do so, we could be up to several 100,000 cases a day, it is similar to our surge in early January.


COOPER: And certainly, we all remember that, and now, she is saying it could go either way. That's the kind of world she sees if more people don't get vaccinated and if we don't all start wearing masks indoors in public as annoying as that is, which is why the administration is pushing for full F.D.A. vaccine approval, not just Emergency Use Authorization as quickly as possible.

And as we're learning just now tonight that sense of urgency apparently extends the question of booster shots. Administration official telling CNN a national booster strategy is being worked on with September as the timeframe. We'll have more on that shortly. First, some place where the delta variant is surging, but so is

resistance at the very highest levels to steps like mask and vaccine requirements. Florida, which is now seeing a 587 percent increase in patients today old and young compared to a month ago.


DR. MICHELLE AQUINO, BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER, JACKSONVILLE: I've admitted a perfectly healthy 19-year-old woman, OK, a perfectly healthy, 25-year-old.

MICHAEL MAYO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BAPTIST HEALTH: And our average age right now is at the 50-year-old mark and we see patients infected with serious respiratory problems as young as in their 30s.


COOPER: And to that point, Florida also leads the nation in children hospitalized with COVID which is why education professionals and large school districts in the Gainesville area and Broward County decided this week to follow C.D.C. guidelines to require students to mask up.


CARLEE SIMON, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT, ALACHUA COUNTY, FLORIDA: We know that if we have masked children in our classrooms, and all of them are masked, then we are going to have fewer quarantines and when we have fewer quarantines, that means our children are going to have direct instruction more often.


COOPER: So, that sounds reasonable enough, which brings us to the Governor Ron DeSantis. He is still standing by his executive order barring public schools from imposing any mask mandates and threatening their funding if they do.

When he signed it last Friday, the state recorded just under 9,700 new cases. Today, six days later, it's nearly 13,000. And again, more kids are hospitalized with COVID in Florida than in any other state.

The Executive Order claims the C.D.C. guidance on masking schools lacks, quote, "a well-grounded scientific justification."

Keeping them honest, though, it reflects what virtually every serious expert has told us and presumably the C.D.C. for weeks now about the delta variant. All he has to do is visit one of the overloaded ICUs in his state, or even worse, a pediatric ICU.

In any case, if you've listened to his defense of his COVID policy just yesterday, there wasn't a lot of science talking it, just a lot of politics.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID. This is a guy who ran for President saying he was going to quote, "shut down the virus." And what is he done? He has imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border.


DESANTIS: Why don't you do your job? Why don't you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don't want to hear a blip about COVID from you.


COOPER: Ron DeSantis is considered a leading contender, of course, to run for President in 2024 in Donald Trump's Republican Party. There is rarely any political downside to blaming undocumented immigrants, of course, for anything or blaming Democrats for undocumented immigrants.

But whatever you may think about border policy, the blame for Florida's COVID problem lies a lot closer to home and so does the responsibility. And it's not just Florida.

Later in the program, you'll hear from a doctor in Tennessee who lost her job as the state's top vaccine official in what turned out to be a political firestorm. At first, this booster news. CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us now from the White House for more on that. So, what are you learning about discussions happening at the F.D.A. regarding booster shots?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're learning at this point is F.D.A. officials have kind of centered around the idea of having a full kind of layout of a proposal for all vaccinated individuals as it relates to booster shots at some point in early September. That would be for everyone.

It is worth noting, according to an administration official that perhaps boosters would come for those who are most at risk at an earlier point in time, but I think what this all underscores, Anderson, is as other countries around the world are starting to move forward on the process of booster shots, the U.S. has not reached that point yet, but this planning makes very clear there's an expectation and you get it when you talk to administration officials across the government, that at some point, it is coming and it is likely coming soon.

And now, what we know is that that plan in full for all vaccinated individuals is likely to come out next month.


COOPER: And as far as Governor DeSantis of Florida is concerned, is the White House commenting about his -- what he has been saying?

MATTINGLY: You know, it's interesting, the President was asked about this today and he responded with the a quick, "Governor who?" And then moved on and ignored the question. White House officials are not in the same mind. They are ready to have

this fight, willing to have this fight and it has been a sharp turn over the course of the last several days, just that they wouldn't be willing to have this fight. They've tried so hard not to exacerbate any political tensions over the course of the last six months.

But the rationale, as it's been told to me by several administration officials, is quite simple. They believe there are serious public health drawbacks to the policies that the Governor is pursuing at this point in time.

They look at the data in Florida, 25 percent of the nationwide hospitalizations are originating in Florida, and the overall case count is significantly higher in Florida. Their unvaccinated rate is very high in Florida, and there's a recognition that schools are starting and the possibility of having kids without masks as the delta variant is raging throughout the state could create major problems not just on the health side, but also on the education side.

That is why you've seen the administration been so forceful, why they plan to continue to push back on DeSantis if the back and forth continues to be engaged. And one thing I would note and officials have made this clear several times, just because they are going back and forth at the highest levels does not mean that there are not Federal resources available to the state.

Sixteen states, Anderson, are currently tapping into an array of Federal resources to deal with the surge of the delta variant, administration officials say they are also in talks with Florida making clear, if they need help, the Federal government is there to provide it even if they're going back and forth from the press briefing room and the governor's press conferences.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, appreciate it. Thanks.

Perspective now from CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen. She is the author of the new book, "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health." Also Andy Slavitt, former senior advisor for COVID response for the Biden administration and author himself of, "Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response."

Dr. Wen, stark words from the Director of the C.D.C. tonight. How does this surge get turned around? And what is the most important thing people should be doing tonight or tomorrow morning when they go to work?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think there are two things that are equally important when it comes to turning around the surge. One, of course, the ultimate answer is vaccination. We know that what will stop the virus in its tracks, and really is our only and best way out of the pandemic is to increase our vaccination rates. Because if we have a high enough level of immunity in the U.S. that we are able to stop this virus from wreaking the type of havoc that it is. But the second thing is, it is going to take a while for people to get

vaccinated. Even if everybody went out tomorrow who is unvaccinated and got their first dose, is we're still talking about over a month before they're all finally able to be fully vaccinated.

And so in that meantime, we are going to have to look at the type of measures that we took in the past including indoor masking, I think is the single most important thing that we can be doing. If there are public spaces in which vaccinated and unvaccinated people are mixing, we really should have indoor mask mandates because of the risk of the unvaccinated to the people around them.

COOPER: Andy, Director Walensky is warning that the U.S. could see several hundred thousand new cases in the next few weeks. Do you think that the U.S. was ever going to see numbers like that again?

I mean, there's no reason for it have we gotten more people vaccinated?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: Well, look, I think the delta variant surprised everybody causing trouble in Israel the same way it is causing trouble here. So, to some extent, these are new facts and anybody who has been thinking about COVID in its 2020 form needs to take a step back and rethink. But I think that's exactly what the C.D.C. Director is doing and helping us do.

And then, you know, beyond that, I think you're right that, you know, we are all a victim of the pockets in our country, the communities in our country with low vaccination rates, those are the things that are causing so much havoc. Now, that is where those several hundred thousand cases will come from. It's avoidable.

As Dr. Wen said, there's a way around this. We have a solution this year, it is called the vaccine.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, you know, we've talked about this before, but I mean, some people may hear all this about breakthrough cases and think why should I get the vaccine? What is your message to them tonight and explain how important it is that the C.D.C. get a better understanding of how many breakthrough cases there are?

WEN: Well, this is the way that I would think about breakthrough infections because I think there's been some confused messaging around, well, if you're vaccinated, and you get a breakthrough infection, could you still infect other people as much as if you're unvaccinated and/or infected? This is the way that I would think about it.

If I had to be in a room for all day in a small room with someone and I could choose: Is that a random vaccinated person or random unvaccinated person? I would choose the random vaccinated person every single time and that's because if you are vaccinated, yes, it reduces your chance of severe illness, but it also substantially reduces your chance of contracting COVID-19 in the first place.


WEN: So, chances are much better that the vaccinated person is not going to be carrying COVID, because, yes, the vaccines don't protect you a hundred percent, breakthrough infections can happen, but your chances of actually getting that breakthrough infection, and therefore being able to expose someone else is much decreased.

And so, I do think that we need to have much better data on breakthrough infections and specifically to answer this question, if you are asymptomatic, and you have a breakthrough infection, are you able to pass the virus to others? We have partial data from Israel here.

The Israeli Ministry of Health, for example, has said that 80 percent of their breakthrough cases, the individuals who are vaccinated and have a breakthrough case, transmit to no one else in a public setting. Ten percent transmit to only one other person. And so, I think we need a lot more data like that here in the U.S., and I hope that the C.D.C. is very actively working to collect those data.

COOPER: Andy, Florida's Governor is standing by his Executive Order banning mask mandates in schools and parents should make decisions for their children. He is also criticizing how the President is handling the pandemic.

What do you say? I mean, clearly, there's politics going on here. But what do you make of what he is actually doing?

SLAVITT: Well, look, I think the President is actually -- he doesn't think very much about the Governor of Florida. He thinks a lot about just the people of Florida and the people of Florida are being prevented from keeping themselves safe. They're being prevented from keeping their children safe.

It was easy enough for Ron DeSantis to take a political stand and attack Dr. Fauci and say that he is not going to vaccinate the state and require people to be vaccinated. Well, he thought cases were going down. But it didn't last more than a few weeks before the wisdom of that decision has made itself available -- available to everybody to see.

And so what he needs to do is the same thing Governor Hutchinson did in Arkansas, which is to say, you know what, I made a mistake. I did this before delta and I need to step back; otherwise, as the President said, he just needs to get out of the way because his actions are causing real harm to people in the state, and I think that's what the President is worried about.

COOPER: Andy Slavitt, Dr. Wen, I appreciate it.

Next, Senator Amy Klobuchar in efforts to hold members the former administration and other top officials accountable for their role in what might have been a coup if others hadn't stopped them.

Later, more in the clash between politics and COVID prevention. One Tennessee doctor's story ahead on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: When we left you last night, we just learned about how far one senior Justice Department official tried to go to help the former President overturn the election, essentially stage a coup. Also, how other officials went to stop him.

Also seen as CNN's Evan Perez reported last night, that this man, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, Jeffrey Clark, who you probably don't recognize succeeded, quote, "The course of history would have been changed if he had succeeded."

Well, today, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin told CNN that he wants his panel to question Mr. Clark.

Joining us, Senate Judiciary Committee member, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Senator Klobuchar, it is remarkable the details now that we've learned. We just mentioned your colleague, Judiciary Chairman Durbin wants to question this former Trump justice official, Jeffrey Clark, what questions do you think he should answer?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, you know, I remember Jeffrey Clark's name in one very big way and that was the reports at the time from "The New York Times" that Trump was actually trying to install him as the Attorney General, over the acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen for the purposes of him maintaining the lie when it came to the election.

So, what we want to know about now is what his role was when it came to election suppression, when it came to questioning the results, the final results of the election, and there is a lot of information out there about what he could have been doing with Georgia.

And I just step back from this. This isn't a campaign. This is the Justice Department. And in America, the President isn't King, the law is King. So, that's the first thing. He has an obligation to the law of the United States, not to Donald Trump, and that is the oath of office that he took.

And then the second piece of this is just exactly as you point out, what he did. And we are, by the way, trying to make sure this never happens again, with a bill that I have just introduced with Senator Warnock of Georgia to extend some of the protections so that we can't have states diving in and taking elected officials out, local election officials out, and putting themselves back in power to be able to -- whether it's counting the ballots or setting the rules of the election.

This is really scary stuff, Anderson.

COOPER: It's also scary. Just I mean, if Clark had, you know, gotten his way and the President -- the then President had gotten his way, there were despite the outcry that would have occurred, there were millions of Americans who were willing to back up this big a lie at the time, as we saw on the Capitol insurrection.

So, I mean, the idea that this could have actually resulted in the incredibly serious threat to our democracy, it is not farfetched.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, and I like how you connect all these dots because the insurrection just didn't happen by itself. Donald Trump was leading up to that, since the Election Day on and calling people to join him in this big lie and calling people that day, of course, to march down the mall to the Capitol.

But what I'm most interested in right now, of course, is not only figuring out how this happened. We looked at what happened at the Capitol. The Select Committee in the House is actually looking at it in a deeper way, and that's really important to allow to go on.

But as that happens, I'm always looking at what's the next step and the next step is the over 400 bills that have been introduced around the country to limit people's right to vote, including ones that have passed like in the State of Georgia, which basically says you can't even vote on weekends during a runoff; you can't even register people to vote during a runoff. You can't give water -- non-partisan volunteers -- to people in line. You have to put your birthdate on an envelope in the inside envelope, because they know people can mess that up.


KLOBUCHAR: These are the kinds of bills that are passing, as you mentioned, in Texas, and around the country, and so this is all tied into what was going on before the election. And it's important to look back at what happened, but it's just as important to stop what's happening now.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's interesting, because, you know, I get direct messages on Instagram from people saying, well, why are you still talking about the former President? Just ignore him. What you just said is the reason that there are -- there is actually legislation happening now, which is based on and relies on the big lie.

This isn't just some guy in Mar-a-Lago in the -- you know, the -- you know, hanging out in the lobby of Mar-a-Lago talking to anyone who will listen about his stolen election allegations. They are making legislation based on it.

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly, and, you know, audits that aren't real in Arizona and the like. So, that's why you wonder why we are so focused on the For the People Bill that sets national Federal standards, saying you know what, you should be able to vote early, you should be able to vote in whatever way you can that is safe, like mailing in your ballot. There should be drop off boxes. There should be ways to vote early.

And that's why the bill is so popular at its core. It is firmly grounded in the Constitution that says that Congress can make or alter the laws for a federal election, and also, it is wildly popular with people because they don't want the mess of who is counting the ballot when and having some basic Federal standards really helps people and they liked the idea. COOPER: You know, Clark was drafting a letter, which was in support of

what the President's big lie particularly about Georgia. Is there any possible justification for such a high-level Justice Department official to draft such a letter?

KLOBUCHAR: No, and look at what former Attorney General Barr said himself. He said that there wasn't fraud in this election. The highest-ranking person in Homeland Security under President Trump who had oversight over the election said it was the safest election in American history.

Jeffrey Rosen, the Acting Attorney General, at the end, who Trump was allegedly trying to replace your guy, Jeffrey Clark -- he is not your guy, Anderson, but the guy we're talking about -- replace him with Jeffrey Clark. He also was trying to hold the line.

So, you saw all these people. And while I didn't agree with a lot of what they were doing, you saw attempts of them trying to hold up the rule of law over people like Jeffrey Clark. And that's why it is so dangerous because you can't have a President putting in basically, campaign style people in the Justice Department who aren't following the law.

COOPER: Yes, you were at the White House this evening when President Biden signed the bill you co-sponsored honoring the Capitol Police officers with the Congressional Gold Medal for their actions on January 6th.

Twenty-seven House Republicans opposed the bill. What do you say to some of your Republican colleagues in both chambers of Congress who are still trying to rewrite history and deny what happened that day and make it seem as though it was just a regular day with tourists coming to the Capitol?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, it was absolutely absurd that 27 of them in the House didn't support it. And the fact that they said it was, was because it had the word insurrection. I was really proud of the work that I did leading the bill with my friend, Senator Blunt, a Republican, and the two of us actually got every senator to support the bill.

The Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate, every one of them, and when I got out of the chamber after we passed it unanimously, the cops noticed. They said to me, this means so much that every single senator not only supporting us with a gold medal that will be forever displayed in the Smithsonian, so kids can ask their parents, what is this about? And they can explain what happened that day.

But also, that every single person agreed to the language that said that these were insurrectionists and that this was an insurrection. So, that was a big deal in the Senate and President Biden did a beautiful job today with Vice President Harris, as he called up the little kids of Billy Evans, an officer who had been killed months later when someone rammed their car into a barricade and pinned him down, and those little kids standing up there with the President giving him the pens as he signed the bill and the kids distributing them to the police and the Police Chiefs is something I'm never going to forget, Anderson.

COOPER: Before I let you go. I do want to ask about infrastructure. Majority Leader Schumer tonight was not committal on timing for the final passage of the bill. Where do things stand right now?


KLOBUCHAR: Well, I'm smiling because I'm standing right here, waiting. And I'm really proud of that bill. We've got strong bipartisan support. I've worked a lot on the broadband piece. It's going to be a game changer for our country, and we're going to get this done.

Right now, they have a package of amendments that we're trying to get approval on and that takes a while in the Senate, so we can begin the vote. But there's every reason to believe this bill will get done and signed into law.

Maybe it's going to be in the wee hours of the morning, one of these days, but it will get done and we're not going to go home until it gets done.

COOPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar, appreciate your time. Thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: OK, thank you.

COOPER: Up next, My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, a devoted ally of the former President keeps pushing false claims about the 2020 election including to our Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: We couldn't find a single person that said this is even possible.


COOPER: His report is next and definitely worth watching.


COOPER: My Pillow CEO, Mike Lindell continues to claim he has evidence that China hacked U.S. voting systems and switched votes for the former President to Biden votes.

In a moment, you'll hear what two dozen election officials and cyber experts contacted by CNN say about those claims. Lindell is not backing down, even as he faces a lawsuit from voting machine maker, Dominion, alleging he has defamed the company with his false accusations and Lindell's company is countersuing.

CNN's Drew Griffin went to Minnesota to talk to Lindell about his claims that threaten democracy. Here is Drew's report.



DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mike Lindell, yes, the MyPillow guy is convinced, China hack the election. Donald Trump really won, and Lindell has the absolute proof.

MIKE LINDELL, CEO, MYPILLOW: They didn't know the state's, everything --

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Did they change the vote?

LINDELL: Every single state.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): And you have the proof.


GRIFFIN (on-camera): You'll show.

LINDELL: I have the holdout of --

GRIFFIN (on-camera): The actual exchange of votes.

LINDELL: Yes, yes, 100 percent, 100 percent.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It is, of course complete nonsense. Despite every piece of so-called evidence, Lindell has presented so far, three videos of lawsuit screenshots he sent to CNN, there's still no proof that the election was hacked. And that's according to two dozen cyber experts and election officials contacted by CNN.

LINDELL: A 100 percent evidence.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): When Lindell released his so-called evidence, in videos like this, fact checkers quickly found out it was evidence of nothing. These images are just publicly available voter data scrolling across the screen, not proof of election hacking. So, Lindell changed his story, saying now the real evidence will be revealed at a cyber symposium streamed live with MyPillow discounts available throughout. And as further proof he sent CNN a preview six different screenshots.

(on-camera): You sent us this Friday?


GRIFFIN (on-camera): What is this?

LINDELL: That's just one piece of 1.2 billion lines of data from the election. OK. There's -- within that will be timestamps of when and when it happened, there'll be flips in there.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): So, we sent this to our own experts. He said that it doesn't show any specific actions of any kind, election related or not. And it's proof of nothing.

LINDELL: OK, so he said, that's nothing. Well, he's wrong, then you didn't hire a cyber expert.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): We didn't consult just one cyber expert. We consulted nine top election security experts who told us Lindell's screenshots were extremely rudimentary metadata, and completely ridiculous. We also reached all 15 officials from the 15 counties where Lindell says without any proof votes were hacked and switched. Lindell mentioned some of the counties in his videos and lists them out in his counter lawsuit against Dominion voting. They are counties that use paper ballots counted by systems not connected to the internet. Every one of them told CNN there is no evidence they were hacked by anyone.

(on-camera): You identify 15 counties where the votes were switched, we contacted all 15 counties --


GRIFFIN (on-camera): -- red and blue, red and blue.

LINDELL: It doesn't matter.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): And we couldn't find a single person that said this is even possible. They say, are -- you are mistaken.


GRIFFIN (on-camera): They think you're wrong.


GRIFFIN (on-camera): The bottom line is they have paper ballot backups.

LINDELL: Right, that's (INAUDIBLE).

GRIFFIN: That proves that they were not --

LINDELL: So, you guys when they let you audit there. They let you do a full audit CNN. You guys did a full out of them 15 counties.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): We did what Lindell did not do. We went to Delta County Michigan to see how the election was carried out. Trump won here, nearly two to one.

LINDELL: The state Michigan entry point or Delta County.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): In his videos and his lawsuit, Lindell claims someone in China hacked the election system here and stole away precisely 3,215 Trump votes and turn them into Biden votes. The Republican county clerk Nancy Przewrocki finds the allegation laughable for one main reason.

NANCY PRZEWROCKI, CLERK, DELTA COUNTY, MICHIGAN: It is never connected to the internet.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Never. PRZEWROCKI: Never connected to the internet, at all whatsoever.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Not only are they not connected to the internet, the votes are cast by hand on paper. Voters scan their ballots into this Dominion scanning machine where two digital storage cards keep a tally. The paper ballot goes right into this bin under lock and seal.

PRZEWROCKI: And that container is sealed.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And just to check that everything went OK, they conduct audits comparing the paper ballots to the results on the computer. And in 2020 it was an exact match.

PRZEWROCKI: We audit it three different precincts and they matched exactly, so.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): So, what would you say to somebody who made a documentary that among many counties accused your county of being the victim of a Chinese hack that changed the vote counts?

PRZEWROCKI: I would say that didn't happen in Delta County.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): A Republican led Michigan State Senate investigation found out it didn't happen anywhere. No evidence of widespread or systematic fraud.

(on-camera): I don't think you really understand how votes are cast collected and tabulated in this country.

LINDELL: OK. You know what I do. But what you don't understand is they can get after they're tabulated. They can get hacked after the fact which they were because Donald Trump was going to win anyway --



GRIFFIN (on-camera): Paper ballots which were cast.

LINDELL: Donald Trump was going to win anyway.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): The paper ballots --

LINDELL: You didn't do an audit to match them up there.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): They're audited against the machine.

LINDELL: No, they weren't. No, they weren't.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): In these counties, they were Mike.

LINDELL: No, they weren't, no, they weren't. Who told you that?

GRIFFIN (on-camera): The county officials who did it.

LINDELL: Oh, did they tell you that? Well, they're going to have some answering to do.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): No matter who says there was no widespread fraud in the election, whether it's local election officials, secretaries of state judges, or even Donald Trump's own attorney general, Mike Lindell's conclusion is the same. They are all wrong.

(on-camera): All these county officials are lying.

LINDELL: I don't know. They might be misconstrued will say misconstrued because they don't realize what happened.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Lindell says his information comes from multiple sources, all of them super secret. He claims he spent millions on the project and also claims he will give $5 million dollars to anyone who proves him wrong.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Mike, you could -- you can make up anything.

LINDELL: Who can there -- you can't (INAUDIBLE) --

GRIFFIN (on-camera): You are just going to have a demonstration --

LINDELL: No, no, no, no, no, no. This is where you're wrong. We're giving it to all the -- we're giving it to the cyber people that show up. We're going to give them each state, here's a state Georgia, they can take it apart.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): You could possibly be the victim of a scam here.

LINDELL: Well, then why don't you come to the symposium and make $5 million? Are you worried about me, we should give a hug. You're worried about (INAUDIBLE) money? Oh, God bless you.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Here's what we're worried about. We're worried that what you are doing is mistakingly or deliberately destroying the confidence in the legitimate elected President of the United States and fostering what could be --

LINDELL: You know, what --

GRIFFIN (on-camera): -- real damage to this country.

LINDELL: -- I never said (INAUDIBLE) about Biden or the Democrats --

GRIFFIN (on-camera): You have --

LINDELL: -- ever.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): You have --

LINDELL: Never, wrong.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): You have through this invent --

LINDELL: No, I have not. You pulled it up, you're lying though.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): -- through this investigation through in this.

LINDELL: You're lying. I said, that Democrats --

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Listen to what I said.

LINDELL: -- warns us. No, you're lying.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): No, you're saying that -- you're saying that --


GRIFFIN (on-camera): -- Joseph Biden was illegitimately elected.

LINDELL: I'm saying that China did an attack on our country --

GRIFFIN (on-camera): And that the wrong person won?

LINDELL: That's right.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): The people who have watched your video believe what you say --

LINDELL: Hundred percent.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): If your wrong, isn't that very dangerous?

LINDELL: But yes, but I'm not wrong. I've checked it out. I've spent millions. You need to trust me and come there.


COOPER: Yes, I trust him. Drew Griffin joins us now. Do you have any reason to believe that now after months of this -- I mean, he has never offered proof of anything? And there is no proof and it's been debunked. It's like his support for Sham remedies. I mean, he has a history.

GRIFFIN: Right. And it just the conversation, as you could tell Anderson goes round and round in circles. And I'm telling you after our discussion, I'm not convinced Mike Lindell understands how voting works, period. Let alone that he has proof of a massive voting conspiracy. And like you say he claims to have all these super-secret sources, but he never shows those sources, never shows their proof. There's very good reason to believe all of this is linked to recycled conspiracy theories from the past all completely discredited. Lindell says, no, this is new. He's paid millions to check it out. But, you know, as we've seen so far, it just does not hold up, period.

COOPER: Yes. Drew Griffin, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, inside the battle politics versus science during the COVID pandemic. I'll speak with Dr. Fiscus in the middle of it and get her take on the real-life implications.



COOPER: Now more on the battle between science and politics and tonight there are fears things good turned violent. Around the country where there have been some bitter battles over mask wearing, several local health officials say they've been intimidated or been receiving threats from those opposed to mask wearing. An executive from the National Association of City and County Health Official said conversations quote, sometimes they're turning nasty and out of control. It's of course one more symptom of science clashing with politics almost every step during the course of the pandemic.

Earlier in the program, we heard from Florida's Republican governor criticizing President Biden about his COVID response somehow trying to commingle border policy with science. As for those health care officials who try to do their job in the face of political opposition look no further than Tennessee.

There Dr.Michelle Fiscus, was fired last month from her position as director of the immunization programs for the state. She says it was after she sent a memo to medical providers informing them about a decade's old Tennessee law that essentially says teenagers can get the vaccine without their parent's permission in some cases.

Dr. Fiscus and her husband Brad, who's a former teacher and a school board member, join me tonight.

Dr. Fiscus, a CNN analysis published today says that Tennessee is one of the states with the fewest adolescents fully vaccinated at just 17 percent. In your experience, what's behind that? And what can be done to improve that?

MICHELLE FISCUS, FMR DIRECTOR OF IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMS, TN DEPT. OF HEALTH: I think there's probably a few different things that work here. One is that the state actually stopped doing any kind of outreach to adolescents in Tennessee about three weeks ago, specifically to COVID-19 vaccine, but also to other vaccines as well over the legislature being upset about the law in Tennessee that would allow adolescents to consent for their own health care, including vaccination.

The other is that we have a very vaccine hesitancy state unfortunately, whether that is because of mistrust of the government or mistrust of vaccines, or what we've seen across Tennessee, this ideological objection to vaccines where it's really felt that getting the vaccine is somehow placating the left part of the political spectrum.

COOPER: Brad, you're Williamson County Board of Education member in your district, you start school tomorrow, I know you've been getting a lot of pressure from the community on whether to issue a mask mandate or not. And I understand that you're not speaking for the board at all tonight, just in your own personal capacity, personal opinion. What do you think should happen? And one of those conversations been like?

BRAD FISCUS, BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBER, WILLIAMSON COUNTY DISTRICT 4: Yes, they've been very difficult and they go back to even at the beginning of the start of this pandemic, when we closed schools down 2020, 2019. It seems that this conversation has been going on since then. And at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, we voted as a board to have a mask mandate. And I truly believe because of that, we were all in campus ons -- in the classrooms, much more than many of our other districts across the state were because we had that mask mandate.


And so, as we start this school year tomorrow, I'm fearful out quite honestly, because we're dealing with a different virus now than what we dealt with at the beginning of the pandemic and at the beginning of the 2021 school year.

COOPER: Brad and I know in some states, like Florida with the governor said, the decision of mask your child is up to parents can't be mandated by the school. I mean, is that enough leaving the decision to the parents decide if they send their child to school with a mask or not?

B. FISCUS: Unfortunately, it's not and I believe in parents choice. I believe that parents have the right to choose what's best for their children. However, by them making a choice to come to school without a mask, if that's their choice, they're making choices for other families as well.

And so, in a school that's set up for free and public education for all, we have to make decisions as board members that sometimes not everyone's going to agree with. And our job first and foremost is obviously to provide access to quality public education. But we can't do that if we're providing an environment that is not safe.

COOPER: Dr. Fiscus to public schools in Tennessee require a certain number of vaccinations for other potential illnesses before kids can go to school?

M. FISCUS: They do, yes. Tennessee has a very robust immunization program and immunization requirements for kindergarten and for seventh grade. And in the state of Tennessee, there is no philosophical exemption to vaccinations for school. So, parents need to get their children vaccinated unless they have a medical reason, or a religious exemption or religious objection to doing so.

COOPER: So the state could in this case for adolescence for children above the age of 12, at this point could mandate vaccinations that they wanted to.

M. FISCUS: Well, it could have except in January, very early on in our legislative session, our state legislature outlawed the ability to mandate COVID-19 vaccines not just for these, this virus now, but for any future COVID-19 vaccines that might be developed for any government entity, which would include our public school system.

COOPER: Dr. Fiscus I mean, based on where vaccinations are right now in the country, and in your state, and the track of the Delta variant, do you think things are going to get worse before they get better? M. FISCUS: I do, unfortunately. Here we have projections that all of our children's hospitals will be filled to capacity by sometime next week. This is a variant that is sickening children. There were two children in Shelby County, where Memphis is that died from COVID-19 over the weekend. There are children across the state who are on ventilators because of COVID-19.

And unfortunately, you know, the Speaker of the House for the state of Tennessee, expressed a few days ago that any school district that tried to put in a mask mandate would be penalized that they would call a special session of the legislature to try to outlaw the ability to do that. And that any school district that closes schools because of high COVID-19 case rates would be penalized financially, where they would take the money out of those schools and give vouchers to -- for those children to attend private schools. And it's that kind of intimidation that is going to work against the health and the welfare of our children.

COOPER: Dr. Michelle Fiscus, Brad Fiscus, appreciate both of you what you do. Thank you so much for being with us.

B. FISCUS: Thank you for having us.

M. FISCUS: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, more breaking news. The list of New York district attorneys asking questions about the investigation to the governor and the sexual harassment allegations against him is growing. The latest on that ahead.



COOPER: There's more breaking news, two more district attorney's offices requesting information from the New York Attorney General investigation into the alleged sexual harassment by New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo. There are now six DAs requesting material with Suffolk County in Erie County Offices looking into whether incidents occurred in their jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, the New York State Assembly says it's nearly complete with its impeachment investigation on the governor. They're giving him until next Friday to respond. All of this taking on new urgency after the New York Attorney General released that damning report finding the governor sexually harassed 11 women he denies those allegations.

CNN's Eric Hill joins us now with more. Erica, do we know when exactly this impeachment investigation is going to be completed? And the next steps from there?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, quickly is the short answer. What we do know is that letter gave of course the governor's attorney until next Friday to submit any additional evidence. The Articles of Impeachment won't be done prior to that. But once they're ready, it could be a pretty quick process. We know a majority of the assembly members have told CNN that they would vote to impeach and then from there, of course, it would move on to the Senate.

COOPER: And what more do you know about the evidence to Governor's teammates submit.

HILL: So there was a reaction to this letter stating that they were nearing completion in terms of the impeachment investigation and inviting the governor's attorneys to submit more evidence. They said they would cooperate, but there were a couple of clues in there. We do know that from the Governor's rebuttal, essentially, one of the events they take issue with is the one that involved allegations from executive assistant, number one who said the governor had cupped her breasts on one occasion. They say that that was basically incomplete.

And then also an attorney for the executive chamber we know has taken issue with the way the retaliation against Lindsey Boylan was described -- describing it as legally and factually wrong. Boylan in response to that we can tell you the New York Attorney General's office said they stand by the report.

COOPER: And the Governor obviously continues to lose support from longtime democratic allies including former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who's running for his old job and says Governor Cuomo should step down. Is there any reason to think the Governor is considering that?

HILL: Based on everything that we have heard, no. And even some insight that we got from Jay Jacobs last night in terms of conversations, he's the state Democratic Party chair. Conversations he had with the Governor trying to urge him to resign. His takeaway was if the Governor was really focused on his defense and he wants to tell in Jay Jacobs's words his side of the story.


COOPER: Erica Hill, thanks. Appreciate it.

Up next, what the Texas Governor Greg Abbott is calling for with one special session about to end as Democrats still remain away from the state in an effort to stall legislation they say well restrict voting rights. That's coming up.


COOPER: Texas Governor Greg Abbott says he'll call another special session in the state's legislature beginning this weekend after Democratic lawmakers fled the state during the first one blocking bills they say will restrict voting rights. The new special session will begin just about 12 hours after the first one ends.

Those Democrats effectively stalled any action on new voting bills by leaving pretty much as a group for Washington more than 50. As you know Democratic lawmakers have remained out of the state since mid July. They spent their time meeting National Democratic leaders pressing for national voting rights legislation. Remains unclear whether the Democrats will return to the state or if they're stalling tactics will even eventually succeed. [21:00:02]

The news continues. Want to hand things over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.